By Kristina Rex

WATERTOWN (CBS) – A walk down Main Street in Watertown includes familiar sights of the last year: closed businesses, reduced hours, and signs reminding you to social distance and wear a mask.

Starting Saturday, those pandemic rules we’ve grown accustomed to will be gone, as the state reopens and drops its mask mandate.

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While major national retailers are announcing whether or not they will drop the in store mask mandate for vaccinated customers, small businesses are figuring out their next steps.

In Watertown, businesses within a half mile stretch have made a wide range of decisions for how the rules will look starting May 29.

At Uniforms for America, a store selling medical and restaurant uniforms, masks will still be required for all customers and staff.

“A lot of our customers are working with patients who have COVID, so we’ll continue to have mask requirements,” owner David Strati explained.

Strati says his clientele is primarily nurses and doctors who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, and he doesn’t anticipate dropping the mask mandate until the fall at the earliest.

“We all feel much safer if everybody in here has the mask on,” he explained.

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Just a block down the road, the barbers at A Barber Shop, Inc. say they’ll do whatever their customers ask of them, and will likely go mask-free until asked to do otherwise.

“This is all about making our customers feel as safe as possible,” barber Franklin Galloway said. “I’m sure some will say ‘I want you to wear the mask,’ and we’re working with the public, so it’s whatever they want.”

One more block down the street, Wild Willy’s Burgers in Watertown will have a “hybrid” return to normalcy: a full dining room, staff wearing masks, and customers free to enter the restaurant mask-free.

“It’s up to them,” co-owner John Beatrice said. “We’re going to take the precautions and wear masks, but if they want to come in and not wear a mask, that’s okay.”

While each small businesses is approaching Saturday’s reopening differently, they all share one thing in common: a sense of gratitude that things are starting to return to normal, including small conveniences we once took for granted.

“Right now, we preordered bottles of ketchup,” John Beatrice explained. “We’re filling napkin dispensers that were emptied a year ago. Salt and pepper shakers are being filled again.”

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Beatrice says he’ll take reopening day by day, and if infection trends continue to plummet once the state reopens, he’ll allow his staff to drop the masks.

Kristina Rex